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San Diego Region Slow To Send Rent, Utility Relief To Struggling Tenants Facing Eviction

KPBS - More than two months ago, the San Diego region was awarded $211 million in state and federal funds to help landlords and low-income tenants who were financially impacted by the pandemic.

But only 2% of that money has been sent to eligible households, according to data obtained by inewsource in mid-May. Some are just now receiving updates about the status of their applications and many others are still waiting, housing advocates say.

The two-month turnaround to process applications and send payments to eligible households has been a problem for struggling tenants who are left in the dark. The state of California is also holding local agencies to a Sept. 30 deadline to commit 65% of the available funding.

Oakland tenants sue S.F. real estate investment company, alleging harassment

San Francisco Chronicle - Dozens of tenants in Oakland filed a class-action lawsuit and four multi-plaintiff lawsuits late Tuesday against Mosser Capital, a San Francisco real estate investment company, alleging illegal utility gouging and harassment, attorneys said.

The allegations include driving up existing rents by imposing new utility fees, unlawful entry into units, refusal to make repairs and charging tenants for necessary repairs.

The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, demands a jury trial, unspecified damages and asks a judge to prohibit Mosser and other companies named in the lawsuit from pressuring tenants to vacate their units.

Oakland Tenants Sue Landlord Mosser Companies, Alleging Harassment, Discrimination To Force Them Out

San Jose Mercury News - Oakland tenants in four different apartment buildings are trying to put a stop to what they say has been an ongoing campaign of harassment and legal violations from their corporate landlord, filing five lawsuits this week against the property owner.

The tenants say Mosser Companies, a property company that owns buildings in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, has shut off their utilities, created unsafe living conditions, slapped them with illegal fines and fees, and harassed them in an effort to get them to leave their rent-controlled apartments.

Just like companies charged with creating hostile work environments, Mosser has created “hostile living conditions,” said Ethan Silverstein, an attorney with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the tenants. “Now, we are asking the courts to put a stop to it.”

Activists Gather At San Diego City Hall To Protest Mayor’s Police Budget

KPBS - A small coalition of activists gathered at San Diego City Hall today to protest Mayor Todd Gloria’s proposal to increase the police budget by nearly $19 million.

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Gennea Wall, a member of the San Diego chapter of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, said more money should be going to dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline.

“Focus on youth services, so children can succeed academically and creatively,” Wall said. “Whatever space they want to go into, you have to have those programs.”

Can this innovative housing idea survive the Bay Area’s real estate market?

Community land trusts struggle to compete in red-hot market

San Jose Mercury News - After more than three years of fighting for his East Oakland home, Rafael Luna is exhausted.

Campaigning against rent hikes that could have priced them out of their apartment building, Luna and his neighbors passed out fliers at the building owner’s office, protested outside the owner’s mother’s house and even had two run-ins with the police. This month, the tenants finally are celebrating a major milestone — a local community land trust bought the building and will convert it into affordable housing.

But he says it’s a bittersweet victory and one that opens another chapter of waiting and uncertainty.

“I don’t know if it’s worth staying here,” said Luna, a 49-year-old electrician. “It’s so much stress.”

Community land trusts – nonprofits that buy market-rate properties and then rent or sell them back to residents as permanently affordable housing – are sweeping the Bay Area, promising a new solution to the region’s low-income housing shortage. New land trusts recently formed in San Jose and on the Peninsula, and Oakland, Berkeley and San Jose are considering ordinances that could make it easier for the groups to snap up homes.

What California lawmakers could do to boost homeownership for Black families

CalMatters - When she was in grad school to become a therapist, Merika Reagan sketched out her future with a friend. They would each start their own practice, buy homes and raise their families in Oakland.

Her classmate, who could count on her family’s financial support, achieved the dream.

But Reagan struggled to find a job that checked her school’s internship requirements and still paid the rent. Her parents, who stayed in senior housing and later passed away, left no savings. She never finished her degree, bought a home or started a family — and she has a clear explanation for why their paths diverged.

“The difference is, she is white and I am Black,” said Reagan, now 46. “That did not happen for me because of generational poverty. Because of being Black, because of being a descendant of slavery, because of stolen wealth.”

Letters to the Editor: Some landlords are determined to evict. This is how Newsom can help renters

LA Times - To the editor: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement of $5 billion to help cover 100% of rent debt is a huge blessing to tenants like me and thousands of others who have suffered job and income loss. (“Newsom proposes additional $600 stimulus checks and $5 billion toward rental assistance,” May 10)

Now, the governor needs to follow President Biden’s lead and let tenants access these funds even if their landlords do not participate in the state’s relief program. Otherwise, a program that keeps only some renters housed will harm California’s long-term recovery.

City hears tenant issues and tackles transparency, block grants and fire

Plumas News - At the April 28 meeting of Portola City Council, multiple members of the community spoke regarding concerns over potential future evictions as the state moves toward re-opening.

All concerned citizens claimed to be members of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, or ACCE, in the six emails sent into council for the public comment portion of the meeting.

“Today I am here to support Ashley and tenants in the City of Portola. Everyone deserves to have a place to call home. Everyone deserves to have a safe, habitable, and affordable place to rest their head at night,” each email read.

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